Lamb Shanks on Cannellini Beans

 It’s a rainy Monday.  The latest in a series of rainy days.  Fortunately I got some lamb shanks at the farmers’ market on Saturday so I have the perfect rainy day dinner.  It doesn’t hurt that I work from home on Mondays so I was able to start it early enough that I can eat at a normal dinner hour.  It takes about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish so plan ahead.  This would be a terrific Sunday dinner.

I only had 2 lamb shanks, but I decided to cut the recipe by half instead of in thirds.  More vegetables and sauce are always good.  I used home canned tomatoes so they were terrific.  I wasn’t inclined to deal with dried beans so I used the canned variety.  And I had no bacon (I know, shocking) so I cooked the beans in beef stock and country ham.  Still a salty, smoky flavor that was perfect with the creamy white beans.  I used fresh rosemary instead of dried because it’s Spring and there’s rosemary everywhere.

The Pair A Dice Farms lamb was its typical mild lamby wonderfulness.  I think a touch of lemon juice would have been a nice addition to the dish.  Just a touch of brightness on top of the warm, dark, rich flavor of the vegetables and lamb.  Oh, I used a Shiraz as the wine.  If you click out to the original recipe you’ll see some other recommendations.  The Shiraz was inexpensive (important since 1/2 the bottle will likely go down the sink tomorrow), but I do enjoy drinking it so I knew it would be good in this.

If you opt not to add lemon to the dish at the end I recommend a simple green salad on the side with a lemony vinaigrette.

Good? Very good.  Especially on a rainy day.
Easy? Yep, the long simmering does all the work.
Good for company? Definitely. One shank per person.
Special shopping? Get the lamb from a source you trust or it may be gamier than you’d like.

Lamb Shanks on Cannellini Beans


  • 2 (3/4-pound) lamb shanks, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups finely chopped carrot
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans or other white beans
  • 4 bacon slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Rosemary sprigs (optional)


  • Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb; cook 12 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from skillet. Add carrot, onion, and celery to skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add wine. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Stir in broth, rosemary, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Return lamb to skillet (skillet will be very full). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until lamb is very tender, turning lamb once. Remove lamb from skillet; bring liquid to a boil, and cook 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
  • Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans; place in Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until tender. Drain.
  • Cook bacon in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from Dutch oven, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in Dutch oven. Crumble bacon. Heat drippings over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until golden. Stir in beans and bacon; remove from heat.
  • Divide beans evenly among 6 plates; arrange lamb on beans. Spoon sauce over lamb. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

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